Utah Phillips

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Bruce "Utah" Duncan Phillips (May 15, 1935 – May 23, 2008)[1] was a labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller, poet and the "Golden Voice of the Great Southwest". He described the struggles of labor unions and the power of direct action, self-identifying as an anarchist.[2] He often promoted the Industrial Workers of the World in his music, actions, and words.



Early years

Phillips was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Edwin Deroger Phillips and Frances Kathleen Coates. He attended East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father, Edwin Phillips, was a labor organizer, and his parents' activism influenced much of his life's work. Phillips was a card-carrying member of the Industrial Workers of the World, the "wobblies," headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Phillips rode the railroads, and wrote songs.[3]

He served in the United States Army for three years beginning in 1956 (at the latest). Witnessing the devastation of post-war Korea greatly influenced his social and political thinking.


Following service, he returned to Salt Lake City, Utah, and joined Ammon Hennacy from the Catholic Worker Movement in establishing a mission house of hospitality named after the activist Joe Hill.[4][5] Phillips worked at the Joe Hill House for the next eight years, then ran for the U.S. Senate as a candidate of Utah's Peace and Freedom Party in 1968. He received 2,019 votes (0.5%) in an election won by Republican Wallace F. Bennett. He also ran for president of the United States in 1976 for the Do-Nothing Party.[6]

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